Friday, May 2, 2014

Making Paintings Art

I have been obsessed lately with the idea of cutting up paintings and making them into quilts. Friends have been donating paintings; I have been finding them at the thrift stores; taking them off my own walls. The strange, electric shock of running a rotary cutter across someone's artwork is the kind of intense sensation hard to get in a standard quiltmaking project. 

On this quilt, just out of the machine, I have combined the cut up paintings with another of my recent ideas: paying homage to the great quiltmakers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. This one contains a quilted version of the only known picture of Harriet Powers, maker of the fantastic Bible quilts that can be found in the Smithsonian and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. (

In thinking of a way to honor harriet, I got thinking about the memorial arches like the Arc de Triomphe. I realized I could combine my obsessions if I just made the arch out of paintings, with all the metaphorical implications that might follow. The sky above her is lit with stars. 

Harriet herself, once a slave in Georgia, is on a pedestal in the middle, in an image I drew with a digital pen and sent to my Fusion longarm:

I feel like I am starting to get where I want to go with this series. At the moment I am collecting new paintings for another quilts, but the painted canvas is so hard to work with I may give myself a break and use regular fabric for a change. I'll just have to generate my own electricity.